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Joined on September 13, 2010

Last Post on July 27, 2014

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Beckett Burner:

@ December 31, 2011 8:40 AM in Burnham boiler-Beckett Stuff

It sounds to me like the filter system is clogged up. It also sounds like you have an outside tank and the cold oil is sludging in the filters.
I'm outspoken on this but unless you have Spin-On filters, and have two of them, sludge will pass through the filter and end up in the pump strainer and nozzle strainer. In my experience, "woofing dog syndrome" is almost always caused by a fuel delivery problem. Cranky Baby Burner Syndrome (Whining) is a symptom of this.
If someone takes the nozzle assembly out of the burner carefully and holds it with the nozzle up. and oil doesn't freely flow out of the bottom, the nozzle strainer is plugged up and no matter how high you set the pressure, you are not getting 140# PSI of pressure through the nozzle orifice.
Check the blower fan for animal dander. It will cut down the air flow.
It needs service. Now.

Sunrad Connections:

@ December 31, 2011 8:23 AM in Unique radiator (pic included) and proper pitch assistance needed

I installed more than a few Sunrad radiators back a long time ago when I worked for my old dead boss.
As I remember, I always had to use 1 1/4" Black Reducing Bushings to get down to 3/4" or 1/2" Copper on the hot water radiators we hooked up.
This isn't in any way a solution for a less than perfect installation, but if the riser coming up through the floor that the original radiator was connected to is 1" NPT, a 1 1/4" X 1" Bl. Red. 90 would at least give a better size for flow to the two radiator on one pipe. There may be pitch issues that I can't see but it might help the situation.
I was under the old impression that those Sunrads were designed for Steam OR Hot Water. I only connected them as hot water.
Just a thought. Tell me it won't work and I won't argue with you. But it's something to try.

Wet Rotar pumps:

@ December 30, 2011 8:08 PM in Baseboard pump question

I thought I read here that you shouldn't use wet rotar pumps on a steam condensate boiler water. The crud in the water wrecks the pump motors.
That a 3 piece pump is the circulator of choice. Like a B&G Series 100 or a Taco 110.

Kibbles & Bits in the chamber:

@ December 30, 2011 6:52 AM in Combustion air question, and soot

I see this stuff all the time. Especially in the boilers that are about to go gas. The "cleaners" just take the top off and brush the K&B's all down where it falls between the chamber or "rug, or into the chamber. That one is almost as bad as the worst one I have ever seen, the soot was being made from the bottom of the flame, hitting the K&B's in the chamber.
You know, it takes a lot of time to pull the burner so you can suck that crud out. With the newer boilers with the swing out doors, there is no excuse for not cleaning the chambers out. I have an account that has three W-McL WGO-7's that run on reset. No way to control the low temperature. So they condense a good part of the year. Every summer, I clean them. Top to bottom. I pull between 30# and 35# of K&B's out of the three of them. It takes time. A soot saw and a piece of threaded rod. And there's NO soot in these boilers. 
I've seen boilers leak from the sections being pushed apart from the crud falling between the sections. An oil company that is so cheap that they don't make their techs clean a boiler properly, doesn't want to be in the oil business. Once all their customers have switched to gas, there's nothing left.
Then, there's the guy around when asked when he was going to combustion test the new oil boiler install he did, commented, "Ive been doing this for over 35 years. I've been looking at flames for over 35 years. I don't need no stinkin' gadget to tell me what I already know. I know a good flame when I see one and I know how to make it."
Nuff Said. 


@ December 29, 2011 8:33 PM in Rinnai E110CP explosive ignition and low heat

Interesting observation of yours, FF. We sootsuckers are well versed in high draft issues. Especially if you live and work in an area where the wind can blow the rectal orifice out of a dairy cow. And that wind will blow from any direction at any time of the year.
Sealed combustion in oil seems to have been a disaster. I often wonder about why gas sealed combustion doesn't in fact, have the same problems. Oil shuts off on safety. Gas will recycle. As long as it keeps running, you never know it had a problem.

Fresh Water:

@ December 29, 2011 7:09 PM in Unidentified pipe

The tidal influence on the thickness of the lens is in an article from the USGS that did extensive ground water testing all over the country.
It has more to do with the density of the water rather than the weight.

System Pressure:

@ December 29, 2011 4:41 PM in purging a system

The ONLY way to check the pre-charge pressure in an "Extrol" type tank is to drop the system pressure to zero and check the tank pressure with a gauge. If you check the tank with 25# PSI in the systrem, you would have 25# PSi pushinf on the bladder? Compressing the air in the tank? Someone (npot you) needs to read the instructions that came with the tank.
If the tank is 10 years old, it may be shot. Amtrol "Extrols" seem to go for 15 years. The others seem to go anytime.
If the pressure climbs rapidly when you start the burner, the tank isn't doing it job.
I'd be embarrased if you called me back about something like this. If you put a hose on the boiler and put it into a 5 gallon bucket and you only get a small amount of water before the pressure goes to zero and stops, the extrol is shot. It needs air in the air chamber. But if the tank is over 10 years old, replace the tank. Ir's shot. The bladder is broken. Trust us, it's broken.

Wells & Aquafiers:

@ December 29, 2011 7:07 AM in Unidentified pipe

There's another misconception along with circulator pumps and their effect on system pressure.
The aquifer or the level above the ground in a specific place on the earth does not change unless sea water levels rise. And they haven't risen much in 70+ years. 
The only thing that changes is the depth to salt water below the fresh. Because fresh water is 40 times lighter than sea water ( it may be 36 times, I can never remember which), the fresh water floats on top of the salt water. If the depth to fresh water in Omaha, Nebraska is 12', then the thickness of the "lens" of fresh water will be 480'. But in Freeport, on the Isle of Long, where there will be a tidal influence, it will be 520'. +/-.  If you look at the water level in the pond down the street, that is the level of the ground water aquifer. The Isle of Long has a sole source Aquifer. You may be able to go up to Montauk Cliffs and drill a well down 30' and get water when the spot you are on is 400' up. But you are dealing with "Perched Water" that is trapped by a layer of impervious soil. It will go away in a dry summer and come back in the winter if wet.
The running of municipal water had more to do with selling something that the public needed at a profit. And that everyone was drinking the swill from their neighbors cesspools.    

No flow:

@ December 28, 2011 7:27 PM in purging a system

I don't see a fast fill feature on that Taco valve. Perhaps its that lever on the far side.
Last February, did the heat work? Did it work the year before? If the answer to these two questions is "yes", and you purged it like you said you did, the circulator probably isn't working. Either the motor isn't drawing current (Amp Clamp, the rotor is jammed or the impeller is broken off.
If the relief valve is dripping, is the pressure in the system going up before it drips? Check the pressure in the Extrol through the Schrader valve.
I've NEVER purged a system like I suggested (and you said that you did it that way) that didn't start pumping unless the circulator was broken.


@ December 28, 2011 7:08 PM in Unidentified pipe

If it is what I think it is (an abandoned water well), unscrew the ell and look down the pipe. If it goes straight down, it's a well.
Today, it must be filled/plugged and capped. It should be filled and sealed with grout if it is a well.
In Massachusetts, any water well that is taken out of service and abandoned, must be sealed and location reported.


@ December 28, 2011 7:00 PM in Unidentified pipe

I didn't finish what I was saying because they called my flight.
After reading the posts again, it is a shallow well. It's 1 1/4" galvanized pipe with a 1 1/4" X 1" Reducing 90 with the remains if a 1" union. The inside of the pipe is (whatever) as far as could be seen. Rust, iron build up from the iron in the ground water. The switch on the wall that is cut off and disconnected was the power to the pump.
When was the house built and was it in that area alone before water mains were laid in the area?  How far above sea level is this building?
The Island of Long and Cape Cod have something in common. They figured out way back when that if you ran municipal water, you could have smaller house lots. You didn't need big well and septic system separation. When was the house built? Reciprocating water pumps had a 1" inlet. They pumped 400 gallons per hour regardless of the lift. 5' Lift, 400 GPH. 25' lift, 400 GPH. They just knocked a lot louder when lifting at over 25;.
Put a ground clamp on the pipe and run another service ground/earth neutral from the well to the panel. My last house was hit by lightning, twice in six weeks before I had a lightning suppression system installed. The only thing that saved the house was my 2" galvanized water well pipe under the cellar-way stairs. After the strikes, the water would run red for 15 or 20 minutes.

Unidentified pipe:

@ December 28, 2011 4:41 PM in Unidentified pipe

If I saw that pipe sticking out of the floor where I work, I'd have thought it was a well pipe. For a reciprocating shallow well water pump like a 1909 meyers pump

Purging Your System:

@ December 28, 2011 7:08 AM in purging a system

I doubt seriously that you have been purging your system properly.
First, there's no fast fill by-pass on that Taco pressure reducing valve. And the system pressure is probably set too low. It needs to be 15# to 18# if you have a second floor. and are having a problem.
You are probably putting the hose on the bottom of the boiler and purging through the boiler and by-passing the system. If you are not, and using the drain above the circulator on the return, the ball valve below the drain needs to be closed so that you force the water being drained, and replaced by the fill valve, to run through the radiation and purge the system. I doubt that the valve will fill fast enough to give you a good purge. If the fill/PRV valve was fed into the bottom of the boiler, it would be purging hot water. When the water comes back from the system, and gets hot, you know you have come around and probably purged it. The way it is now, you will only get cold water back from the system.
If you do not have enough pressure in the system, all the air vents in the world will not vent your system. In fact, they will let air in when you open them. And any air that is dissolved in the water will come out of suspension when it meets the vacuum of the top of the system.
If you can figure this out, take a double hose connection/washing machine connection and connect it to the bottom drain on the boiler. Connect the other end to a cold water drain that has street pressure. Take another short hose and a 5 gallon bucket. Open the by-pass feed to the boiler watching that you do not over pressurize the system. Don't let it go over 25+#. Make sure that the yellow handled by-pass ball valve is closed. Open the drain and let the water flow into the bucket. Make sure that the end of the hose is in the bottom of the bucket. Within 30 seconds, you should hear an eruption in the pipes and the hose will dance. Hold your hand around the return pipe. After the bubbles come, the pipe will start to get hot. When all is quiet and the pipe is getting really hot, shut off the by-pass hose to the bottom of the boiler and the by-pass/purge hose. Shut off the drain/purge hose and open the by-pass ball valve. If the circulator is running, the pipe will get hotter and hotter. Leave the system at 18#-20#. It should be working.
Replace the fill valve. If you try to adjust it, it will start leaking bye and will over pressurize the system.
Drop the system pressure to zero and check the expansion/Extrol tank pressure. It should be at least 12#.
I have never been able to purge a two story system with 12# pressure alone.
I haven't opened a vent on a baseboard in so long, I can't remotely remember when it was.

Overloaded motors:

@ December 28, 2011 6:42 AM in Overload Relays

Are you sure that you don't just have a bad motor?

Unknown Pipe:

@ December 27, 2011 7:11 PM in Unidentified pipe

Any photos of this pipe and what is around it?

Solid Flushes:

@ December 27, 2011 7:06 PM in Problem with Gerber and can anyone id this toilet

If it flushed when you bought the house, and it flushed in the near past, and it stopped taking solid flushes, there's something in it. Like a toothbrush or a comb.
There's a photo of the sink next to the toilet. There's stuff on the counter. Any of those things could fall into the bowl and get flushed. Especially toothbrushes.
Are you absolutely, proof positive that there isn't something in the bowl? Put the bowl, upside down on some towels, and run a quality toilet auger through the bottom. See what comes out. You can buy small inspection mirrors. Look inside from both directions.
Did you get the proper flush assembly?
Is the chrome tube ell inserted into the bowl too far? If it is in too far, the flow may be restricted.

Heat Exchanger/Sulpher

@ December 26, 2011 8:26 PM in Methods for Heat Exchanger Cleaning?

That heat exchanger looks like a cold start oil boiler running non-low sulpher oil.
Is this what you are getting with condensing boilers on Nat Gas?


@ December 26, 2011 8:09 PM in Anti-freeze

And most Refractometers will do both kinds of anti-freeze and lead acid batteries.

By passages:

@ December 26, 2011 7:25 PM in Low mass boiler and cool return temps

You take a low mass boiler. Put a boiler pump and pump through the boiler. Put two properly closely spaced tees in the primary loop connected to the 4-way. Connect the secondary supply and return in the other side of the 4'way. Put a system pump wherever you prefer. Connect the outdoor reset on the 4-way, the system temperature probe on the supply out to the system, and the other on the water returning back to the boiler on the boiler side of the system, set the system reset to what you want, and if you have boiler reset, set that higher, and you are good to go.
Stop condensation in boilers


@ December 26, 2011 7:09 PM in Problem with Gerber and can anyone id this toilet

Toilets don't get "pitched" They sit on the floor.
Lets start at the beginning.
When you bought the house, did the toilet work?
How well did it work?
When did it stop working?
Did changing the flush valve make it better, the same or worse?
That bowl was made almost 30 years ago and has been in place for 25 years. It must have worked when it was installed.
Are you sure that nothing fell in it and isn't stuck in it?
There's standing water in the 4" pipe under the floor. Does the floor pitch away and is it out of level?
Take a small mirror and a strong flashlight. Put the mirror in the pipe and shine the light on the mirror so It shines down the pipe. Orient it so you can look down the pipe with the mirror and see what you can see. Does the standing water get wider? If it does, the pipe is pitching back to the flange.
I've seen where leaking closet flanges/bowl waxes break a vacuum seal and cause slow flushing. And the plastic horn on that bowl wax gets restricted and they improve when removed.
Make sure that there isn't anything in the bowl trap-way

Low mass boiler, high mass systems:

@ December 26, 2011 6:45 PM in Low mass boiler and cool return temps

A better choice for you would have been a primary/secondary with a Taco 4-way "I" series valve. It gives you outdoor reset in the system so you can make it run at whatever it needs to run at and the system temperature will settle out and run continuously at some Delta T. The boiler will not be subject to all that crazy flow because the 4-way is always modulating the boiler and system temperature. It offers boiler protection by sensing boiler return water temperature and gives you two dip switch temperatures.

Old T87's

@ December 26, 2011 3:03 PM in New T87

Are the old T 87's even available anymore? Every time I need a new T 87, I'm a quandary about what to do with the old one and the mercury inside.
I agree with setting the anticipator to 1.2 amps. But, do any of you all ever put an "Amp-Mate" meter to see what the control amperage is running through the thermostat? I found that with Taco 571 zone valves that draw .09 amps, if an old style mercury T 87 thermostat is used, they come set at .04 amps and if the power was sent to the T 87, the heat anticipator rheostat would almost instantly burn out. Only to short cycle forever, no matter what you set it at later.
Just curious.